The controversy around Najma Heptullah’s Hindu identity comment explained

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Minority Affairs Minister, Najma Heptullah.
Minority Affairs Minister Najma Heptulla has stoked a controversy by reportedly calling all Indians "Hindus." And after this comment, the opposition was quick to react over senior BJP leader's statement and termed it ‘unfortunate'.

What is the controversy

• Minority Affairs Minister, Najma Heptulla was quoted as saying that "there is nothing wrong in calling all Indians Hindu."

• After the report in media, it stoked yet another controversy and it was being said that she has in a way supported RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat who had earlier said that "India is a Hindu nation and Hindutva is the identity of our nation."

What did Najma Heptullah say?

• Minority Affairs Minister, Najma Heptulla was quoted as saying in a media report that "there is nothing wrong in calling all Indians Hindu."

• The idea that all Indians were Hindus had "evolved in history", she said. "Anything beyond the Hindu Kush mountains and on this side of the Sindh river is Hind. In Persian, they call it Hindustani... where the people of India live (sic)."

• The word Hindu originally referred to the national identity of people who live in this land, she said. "I look at it very rationally. One should not forget history."

What had Mohan Bhagwat said

• Mohan Bhagwat created controversy few days back by calling India a Hindu nation.

• He had said, "Hindustan is a Hindu nation...Hindutva is the identity of our nation and it (Hinduism) can incorporate others (religions) in itself.

• "The cultural identity of all Indians is Hindutva and the present inhabitants of the country are descendants of this great culture."

What Najam Heptullah clarified

• After media was abuzz with aforementioned reports she clarified her comments by saying she had called all the Indians Hindi, not Hindus.

• She said Hindi is the Arabic term for people living in India and what she said was "not in relation to the religion but in relation to identity as nationality".

• Heptulla also hinted at the need of having uniformity of identity for Indians as she said that she did not think "there is any country with three names in three different languages".

• "In Arabic, Indians are called Hindi and Hindustani and Indian in Persian and English respectively," she said.

• She also quoted Iqbal's famous lines "Hindi hain hum watan hai Hindostan hamara (We are Hindi and our country is Hindostan)" to make her point.

What the Opposition is saying

• Criticising Heptullah's statement Congress leader Shobha Oza said, "Unfortunate she made such comments. It is habit of BJP leaders to give statements and then take a U-turn."

• Senior Congress leader and former union minister Manish Tewari said on her comment, "We respect Najmaji a lot but it would be better if she reads the Constitution. The Constitution mentions ‘Bharat' and going by that every citizen of the country is a ‘Bharatiya' and not Hindu."

What is the BJP saying

• BJP leader Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said the chapter should be closed after her clarification.

• BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra said, "I believe what Najmaji meant was cultural unity of India and these issues should not be seen with a religious angle. Unity in diversity is in the ethos of the country and we should all believe in that".

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